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OLPC’s Negroponte: Is he or isn’t he?

Posted on the May 16th, 2008

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) founder Nicholas Negroponte is taking some heat from critics who are accusing him of selling out his principles in making a deal with Microsoft, according to an ars technica article yesterday (“Former security director blasts OLPC, suggests new strategy” by Ryan Paul, May 15, 2008).

The deal, described in an article today in the New York Times, was announced yesterday and provides for Microsoft’s Windows to be offered on all OLPC’s low low cost computers (“Microsoft Joins Effort for Laptops for Children” by Steve Lohr, May 16, 2008). In reference to the agreement with Microsoft, Negroponte said, according to the article, that the government officials of the countries whose poor children OLPC is trying to reach “are much more comfortable with Windows” (as an operating system for the computers).

In another piece in ars technica, also today, Negroponte is also speaking for himself about what his primary motive was in forming the alliance with Microsoft (“OLPC and Microsoft will make Windows available on XO” by Ryan Paul, May 16, 2008):

“From the beginning, the goal of OLPC has been to use technology to transform education by bringing connectivity and constructionist learning to the poorest children throughout the world,” said OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte in a statement. “Today’s announcement, coupled with future plans for a dual boot version of the XO laptop, enhances our ability to deliver on this vision.

So another way (in my opinion) of looking at Negroponte’s decision to go with Microsoft could be that he simply is keeping his eye on the ball — meaning his goal of getting computers into the hands of the millions and millions of poor children across the globe as soon as possible. Whatever it takes.

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